Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rank Up! - 2D Mario (2013 Edition)

Last year Nintendo released two brand-new 2D Mario games. Now, we at SuperPhillip Central love 2D Mario, but at that same token, too much of a good thing can be bad. We're just thankful that 2D Mario is taking a hiatus as the New Super Mario Bros. series is said to be a once-every-platform type deal.

You might be wondering what Rank Up! is. For today, for instance, we're listing the 2D Mario games from least favorite to most favorite. That's basically all Rank Up! is. We're doing 2D Mario because today on the Wii U Virtual Console, Super Mario Bros. 2 was released. If you have already purchased or do purchase Super Mario World, you can get SMB2 for half price. Not bad of a deal at all! With that out of the way, let's take a gander at what games we'll be ranking today:

Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES, SNES)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
Super Mario Land (GB)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Super Mario World (SNES)
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

11) Super Mario Land (GB)

Don't get us wrong-- there is no such thing as a bad 2D Mario game. However, one game had to be our least favorite, and Super Mario Land is that game. Super Mario Land was produced by Gunpei Yokoi, father of the Game Boy and Game & Watch and an early mentor of Shigeru Miyamoto. The game featured four worlds made up of three levels each. Super Mario Land is quite unlike any other Mario game. Perhaps if there weren't Goombas or coins, one could replace Mario from the game and you wouldn't know it was a Mario title to begin with! Regardless, the game marked the debut of Mario on the Game Boy and launched with the system. The sales of the game have approached 18 million units since its launch, making it a great success.

10) Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES, SNES)

We at SuperPhillip Central love a challenge, but this next game on the countdown is one that kicked our butts every which way but Sunday (what the hell does that turn of phrase even mean?). Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels debuted in the United States on the Super Nintendo's Super Mario All-Stars cartridge. It featured levels that were exponentially more difficult than its predecessor, including Poison Mushrooms that would shrink or kill Mario and warp pipes that would make the player go back several worlds. Just pure evil! For those who own a Nintendo 3DS, you can purchase the original NES version of the game on the Virtual Console service. The luxury of that is that you get restore points. Don't worry-- we won't tell anybody if you use them.

9) Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB)

Another bizarre game in Mario's 2D escapades, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins saw the debut of the greedy, garlic-eating Wario, who takes up residence in Mario's castle while the portly plumber is away. In order to get back into the castle and kick Wario out, Mario must collect the eponymous six golden coins from six different themed lands. Players could go to any land they desired, and each land ended with a boss battle, from three little pigs to a wicked witch. Super Mario Land 2 introduced plenty of one-off enemies and power-ups that have never been implemented in a future Mario game. Combine this with the fact that the game was super-easy (save for the final level which gave the game a huge difficulty spike) and it could be completed in less than two hours, and you have Super Mario Land 2 as the ninth game on this edition of Rank Up!

8) New Super Mario Bros. (DS)

After a decade's long hiatus, the 2D Mario series returned to gaming with the Nintendo DS system's New Super Mario Bros. Taking elements of many of the past Mario games, New Super Mario Bros. offered plenty of secrets and replay value in the form of secret exits, hidden Star Coins (three per level), and two optional worlds. We are suckers for 2D Mario, and New Super Mario Bros. finally scratched that itch we had for a new 2D Mario that had lasted for over a decade. Something that we really liked about the game was that the bosses weren't your typical Koopalings. Instead, the original New Super Mario Bros. mixed things up by sporting larger versions of classic enemies. Some might look back at New Super Mario Bros. not as fondly as us, but with its creative and clever level design, host of secrets, and fun new power-ups, we can't recommend New Super Mario Bros. more.

7) Super Mario Bros. (NES)

The game that catapulted Nintendo to the top of the gaming industry after the infamous crash, Super Mario Bros. was designed concurrently with The Legend of Zelda. One might wonder what a game that could be said to have saved the gaming industry is doing so low on this list. It is not because Super Mario Bros. is a bad game. It is simply our thought that the game has been outshone by many of its successors. Still, Super Mario Bros. is classic Mario at its finest, with little in the way of frills. It's just simple platforming fun that poses a good challenge without being unfair. Sorry, Mario, but your princess is in another castle!

6) Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

The original Super Mario Bros. 2 (known in the U.S.A. as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels) was deemed too difficult for U.S. audiences by Nintendo of America. Instead, they used a game called Doki Doki Panic and added in Mario-related assets. The end result is one of the more eccentric Mario titles on the market. Instead of jumping on enemies to squash them, Mario and the three other playable characters could pick up enemies and pull up vegetables to defeat opponents. Super Mario Bros. 2 introduced Birdo and Shy Guys into the Mario canon. Japan would later receive a Famicom release of the U.S. version of Super Mario Bros. 2 in the form of Super Mario USA.

5) New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)

We had our reservations about New Super Mario Bros. 2. While "rehash" is a word that's thrown around like pocket change these days, the only rehash we saw outside of the music in the game was the arguments calling New Super Mario Bros. 2 lazy and uninspired. The level design was anything but, showcasing tricks that had never been seen in a 2D Mario game before. This is doubly impressive when one considers that New Super Mario Bros. 2 was made by an entirely young group of beginner developers who went through a crash course of sorts of 2D Mario level design. New Super Mario Bros. 2 makes us incredibly optimistic towards the future of the series if these fine folks who designed the game keep on keepin' on.

4) New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

While it was not Nintendo's smartest move in releasing two 2D Mario games with the same branding within six months of each other, New Super Mario Bros. U was still an incredibly competent entry in the series. Taking a cue from Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U's worlds were completely interconnected by one overarching map. Each level had its own distinct challenge to it that made each different from the last. Not only were their Star Coins to obtain but secret exits to find. The Squirrel Suit that New Super Mario Bros. U introduced is one of our personal favorites Mario suits of all time. New Super Mario Bros. U was also one of the more challenging 2D Marios in existence, especially the secret world that unlocks after the game is first beaten. Throw in Boost Mode, which allows one player to place platforms for other players, and Challenge Mode, and you have one packed Mario game.

3) Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

The best of the original Super Mario Bros. trilogy, Super Mario Bros. 3 basically had its own advertisement in the form of a feature length movie, The Wizard. That's how important and awesome Super Mario Bros. 3 was. The game was the first in the series to feature world maps, of which there were eight. New power-ups like Raccoon Mario, Tanooki Mario, the Hammer Bros. suit, and the Frog Suit made for a game that didn't falter on the frills. Each level presented a new challenge to the player, and the airship levels that concluded every world were excellent have been made a hallmark of the franchise ever since. Super Mario Bros. 3 is a timeless game and one that future generations will no doubt enjoy.

2) New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

This might be considered blasphemy, ranking New Super Mario Bros. Wii over Super Mario Bros. 3, but hear us out. New Super Mario Bros. Wii featured some of the most ingenious level design in the entire Super Mario series. Each level brought forth some new gameplay concept, whether it was swimming in bubbles that were suspended in the air, riding one hell of a roller coaster, or running from a black cloud of death. In past Mario games, multiplayer was relegated to taking turns playing as Mario and Luigi. That wasn't the case with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The Wii iteration made it so up to four players could team up together for some wacky and wild shenanigans, making reaching certain Star Coins all the easier than when doing it alone. It was all of these things that made for an unforgettable Mario experience, and one that we can play through time and time again-- a great feature of truly great Mario games.

1) Super Mario World (SNES)

The ultimate in 2D Mario, Super Mario World brought Mario into the 16-bit era in style. Everything about this game is polished-- from the super-tight platforming to the colorful graphics. Super Mario World was the first 2D Mario game to feature secret exits in levels that opened up paths to hidden areas, such as Star Road and the Top Secret Area. Speaking of levels, Super Mario World constantly introduced new platforming challenges, enemies, and obstacles to create some of the best designed levels in any Mario title. The addition of Yoshi, who would become a mainstay in the Mario series ever since, made Mario and Luigi have even more mobility. No matter how you slice it, Super Mario World is the best, not only in 2D Mario, but 2D platforming in general. More so than the games that released before and after it, Super Mario World is one of those defining games in the industry. If you somehow don't enjoy the game, we think it's safe to assume that you have no soul.


That's our list of 2D Mario favorites. What is yours? Do you agree/disagree with our order of games? Do you count Super Mario World 2 as a 2D Mario game and not a Yoshi series game, despite it starring Yoshi? Discuss this subject within the comments section below.

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